Honasan heads new six-man oversight panel on intelligence, confidential funds

Senators on Tuesday approved a resolution creating a new congressional oversight panel to keep tabs on disbursements of millions of pesos in intelligence and confidential funds allocated to various agencies.

Following its approval, the Senate promptly named six of its members to sit in the watchdog panel to be chaired by Sen. Gregorio B. Honasan II with Senators Panfilo M. Lacson Sr., Richard J. Gordon, Emmanuel D. Pacquiao, Paolo Benigno A. Aquino IV and Francis N. Pangilinan as members.

In voting to adopt  Senate Resolution 361, the senators acknowledged the need “for the Senate to oversee the efficiency of concerned government institutions in the production of accurate and timely intelligence information to better deal with the threats to national security, including the maintenance of peace and order”.

Honasan, in sponsoring the measure, explained that “in light of the recent threats to our country’s national security, including disturbance to peace and order by lawless elements, the importance of gathering intelligence information by concerned government agencies cannot be overstated”.

With the passage of the resolution,  he said, the new Select Oversight Committee on Intelligence and Confidential Funds in the 17th Congress would “allow the Senate to continue exercising its oversight functions over the use, disbursement and expenditures of confidential and intelligence funds granted to certain government agencies; and to provide vigilant legislative oversight over the conduct of these activities”.

Moreover, the Senator noted that in the 2017 General Appropriations Act alone, P5.48 billion has been allocated for confidential and intelligence funds (CIF) “to implement programs and activities of the government, relative to national defense, peace and order and national security”.

Honasan added these CIF “are not subject to the regular auditing rules and procedures of the Commission on Audit”, the resolution stressed. He recalled that the previous Congresses “each had a Senate Select Oversight Committee on CIF.

Honasan invoked Section 14, Rule X of the Senate which, he said, provides that “whenever necessary, special committees shall be organized, the membership and jurisdiction of which shall be determined by the Senate President”.